Troubleshooting A ThinkPenguin 4G Modem

These are just some notes and things to check if having problems with getting your ThinkPenguin 4G modem to work. To one extent or another some parts are applicable to ThinkPenguin models on various machines and devices: TPE-EM7455CHIP, TPE-LT4120CHIP, & TPE-USB4GLTE modems. Other parts utilize ThinkPenguin laptops more specifically. Example below is imagery of inserting into a SIM card into a Penguin J3 GNU/Linux Laptop specifically.

Network registration failed: I've connected the router configured with QMI, entered the APN, have the SIM inserted, antennas connected, and have a USB 4G modem connect using a non-white USB cable to the router, but it's still not working

Login to the router at and go to Status > System Log. Scroll down to the bottom of the log file and see if you get a message about "Command failed: Permission denied". If you see the below at the bottom of the log file your modem may be set to the wrong device. Go to Network > Interfaces and click the Edit button next to the WWAN0 interface. From the Modem device drop down see if /dev/cdc-wdm1 shows. If it does your modem was just picked up as a different address than the directions assume. Change it to /dev/cdc-wdm1 and click the Save & Apply button. Go to System > Reboot and click Perform reboot. It's possible you will have to try this a few times to figure out which device it is that is correct. You will also want to make sure you give it enough time to connect and that you have a decent reception where you are.

Wed Jan 6 04:39:21 2021 daemon.notice netifd: WWAN0 (1818): Waiting for network registration
Wed Jan 6 04:39:33 2021 daemon.notice netifd: WWAN0 (1818): Network registration failed
Wed Jan 6 04:39:33 2021 daemon.notice netifd: WWAN0 (1884): Stopping network WWAN0
Wed Jan 6 04:39:33 2021 daemon.notice netifd: WWAN0 (1884): Command failed: Permission denied
Wed Jan 6 04:39:33 2021 daemon.notice netifd: Interface 'WWAN0' is now down

I need to login to AT&T/provider x and need to find out the phone # for my account

The command below will provide a bunch of information of which one is the phone #.

sudo mmcli --modem 0

Scroll down to where you see Numbers | own: to find your phone #.

| equipment id: 358895061147071
System | device: /sys/devices/pci0000:00/0000:00:14.0/usb1/1-1
| drivers: qmi_wwan
| plugin: generic
| primary port: cdc-wdm0
| ports: cdc-wdm0 (qmi), wwp0s20f0u1i1 (net)
Numbers | own: 16034001135

* In the above example 16034001135 is the phone # where the first digit is the United States and 603 is the area code.

Is the SIM card Inserted correctly? Here is how to check that it is...

It'll making a snapping noise when inserted fully and stick out just a little bit. Notice the corner is cut to figure out how it goes in. The top part has branding and the underneath that you can't see has the metal contacts. This picture applies to how to insert a SIM card on the Penguin J3 GNU/Linux Laptop explicitly. If you need an example for our USB 4G modem contact support.

To verify your SIM card is inserted properly run the following commands from a terminal:

dmesg | grep mbim

The output will look something like this:

[ 4.031283] cdc_mbim 1-2:1.4: cdc-wdm0: USB WDM device
[ 4.031423] cdc_mbim 1-2:1.4 wwan0: register 'cdc_mbim' at usb-0000:00:34.0-2, CDC MBIM, e6:58:41:a5:fc:61
[ 4.031354] usbcore: registered new interface driver cdc_mbim
[ 4.087646] cdc_mbim 1-2:1.4 wwp0s20f0u4i2: renamed from wwan0

Take note of the line that says cdc-wdm0 as this tells us that the modem is at /dev/cdc-wdm0

Then run:

sudo mbimcli -d /dev/cdc-wdm0 --query-subscriber-ready-status

Output should look like this:

[/dev/cdc-wdm0] Subscriber ready status retrieved:
Ready state: 'initialized'
Subscriber ID: '712415804163631'
SIM ICCID: '19314102578461676631'
Ready info: 'none'
Telephone numbers: (1) '19034303173'

If you see something like this where it says 'sim-not-inserted' it means you have the card in wrong:

[/dev/cdc-wdm0] Subscriber ready status retrieved:
Ready state: 'sim-not-inserted'
Subscriber ID: 'unknown'
SIM ICCID: 'unknown'
Ready info: 'none'
Telephone numbers: (0) 'unknown'

Unable to add a new connection for your modem using your distribution mobile broadband wizard? Try the following...

If "Add new connection" wizard finishes and no new connection is added then you may need to reboot the system and try again. This may also happen if the SIM card is not inserted correctly.

A connection is established but there is no internet? Check your firewall settings...

Most distributions don't firewall by default, but on a rare occasion there is an exception to this. That is the case with Mageia. If you are on Mageia check out our directions which include how to disable the firewall.

Verizon won't activate my device/SIM card/etc or the SIM card isn't compatible with the modem... How to fix this...

Verizon doesn't really know what the right size SIM card is, but because it is particularly picky you must have a 3-in-one SIM card to activate. You also can't just go into a Verizon store to activate. They'll tell it isn't compatible when in reality it is.. BUT you have to follow the online activation proccess. Follow the direction in our Verizon tutorial to activate a Verizon SIM card with one of our computers or devices.

The light on the modem isn't coming on and I'm getting an error message about the radio not being on.. How to fix...

If you get an error message "error: operation failed: RadioPowerOff" when running mbim-network /dev/cdc-wdmX start this will turn the radio on and fix the problem of not being able to connect.

Or if you don't see a blue light on the modem the radio is probably off. To turn it on run the command below and replace X with your /dev/cdc-wdmX device and then run the mbim-network command above again:

sudo mbimcli --device=/dev/cdc-wdmX --device-open-proxy --set-radio-state=on

* Replace /dev/cdc-wdmX with your modem's location (ie run ls /dev/cdc-wdm* to find the devices location)

nbimcli -d /dev/cdc-wdmX -p --query-ip-configuration results in "error: couldn't get IP configuration response message: ContextNotActivated"

Make sure your wifi is disconnected and off or you may get this message

4g Modem is failing to connect

It may be that the mobile broadband wizard did not save the APN information entered. Open the network connections and find your mobile broadband connection. Under the Mobile Broadband tab you should find an advanced section with the words APN. Enter the correct APN info for your cellular provider and hit save. Try connecting again.

The blue light on my modem intermittently goes off

The 4G modem isn't getting sufficient power from the USB port it is connected to. Many mini board computers, routers, and even some laptop/desktop USB ports may not provide enough power for the modem to function properly. Tips that may help resolve the issue:

  • Try a USB 3.0+ port (usually the blue ports)
  • For a USB powered device try a higher end power adapter that provides more power to the router/mini board computer like our 18W/3.0A USB power adapter.
  • Connect a powered USB hub hub in-between the the USB 4G modem and the computer/router/mini board computer

I'm trying to connect, but not having reliable service/having problems connecting

Connect the 4G modem to a computer with GNU/Linux on it, open a terminal, and try setting the modem to operate in 4G mode only:

sudo mmcli -L
sudo mmcli -m 10 --set-allowed-modes=4G